Monday Morning Fika with Cara Bristol: The Catch 22 of domestic discipline fiction…

Governing Ana is proud to host Cara Bristol for today’s Fika.   On select Mondays, we will sit down with a ttwd author to chat about topics such as books, love, electronic readers, and even biting!  Please welcome Cara for a discussion of how to incorporate domestic discipline within ttwd fiction.

*”Fika” is a Swedish term for enjoying coffee, tea, and sweets over conversation with friends.  It is a sacred tradition in many families, friends, and even workplaces, and it offers a chance to chat informally on a number of topics.  While “Fika” may refer specifically to the coffee, in practice it refers to the moment of community.  In this hectic world, it is nice to take a moment to stop, pause, and savor time getting to know a little more about each other.

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By Cara Bristol

Domestic discipline fiction goes like this: heroine misbehaves – hero spanks her. The reason for the spanking creates a dilemma for the author.

Readers want likable characters they can root for. If the heroine’s offense is minor, readers dislike the hero because he looks like a bully. If she commits a serious offense that can be seen as a moral failing – infidelity, endangering the lives of her children, readers dislike her. So as an author, you have to skate a very thin line down the middle of the two extremes.

The notion of a woman being spanked is a retro concept, but readers bring modern sensibilities. They want strong, capable heroines. So how do you create an independent woman who is savvy and smart, yet somehow acts in a way that merits a spanking?

It’s a challenge to devise spankable offenses, but here are a few things to consider. First, both the hero and the heroine should have logical, believable reasons for their actions from their perspectives. The heroine must commit her offense for a good reason, not just because she’s being bratty or unkind. And the hero must be equally justified for spanking her.

In Sue Lyndon’s  A Firm Husband, a western historical, the heroine wants to see the world so she hops a stage and runs away. Her father sends a neighboring rancher to retrieve her, and after she lies to avoid being taken home, he spanks her. Is it justifiable that a young woman might long to see the country? Absolutely. Is it justifiable that the people who care for her might not think it was a good idea? Absolutely.

(By the way, because women’s roles were so different long ago, historical and domestic discipline are two genres that mesh well together).

A second tactic is to remove the monkey of a dilemma off your back and put it on your character’s. Give your heroine a problem with no good solution and have her opt for the worst of two bad choices. But be sure to show how “torn” she is by her decision.

In False Pretenses, the second novel in my Rod and Cane Society domestic discipline series, Emma Dupree is an aspiring journalist. She has a soul-sucking day job and is desperate to get out. She stumbles across a secret organization of men who spank their wives and goes undercover to get the scoop. But it turns out her new boyfriend is a member, and while she’s undercover, she makes friends with one of the spanked women. To write the story that will launch her career, she will have to betray her lover and friend.

Third, have your spankable offenses emerge from a story or plot that is outside the domestic discipline relationship. In Jade Cary’s The Point of it All, the story is a thriller, a romantic suspense about why a plastic surgeon is kidnapped by bad guys in Mexico. The rescuer finds the doctor months later hiding out with a band of gypsies after she’d escaped from her kidnappers. She doesn’t want to be rescued anymore, but intends to remain to help the people who’d hid her. But her rescuer has to complete his mission and bring her home. When she almost shoots off his ear, he spanks her to bring her under control so he can “save” her.  Take away the spanking, and the story still stands. The hero could have saved the heroine some other way, but he didn’t. (But as a warning, many readers took offense to a kidnapped, traumatized woman being spanked by her rescuer. Others, however, loved this book).

Fourth, let your hero put your heroine in a bind. In Unexpected Consequences, the first Rod and Cane Society novel, Jared Traynor and his new bride have a domestic discipline marriage. Though she’s agreed to it, he wants to be sure she’s fully on board with the lifestyle. When she wants an expensive pair of shoes, though he secretly plans to surprise her with them, he tests her obedience by telling her no. She fails his test when she sneaks back and buys the shoes.

Domestic discipline requires an approval from the reader that other contemporary fiction doesn’t. A reader has to accept that spanking for discipline is okay on a basic level for purposes of the story to enjoy it.  (They don’t have to accept it in real life.) To some people, the idea that a man punishes a woman is totally unacceptable even in fiction and you’ll never find an offense that warrants a spanking in their minds. But they’re not your audience.

Write for readers who enjoy spanking stories and for the ones who are new to the genre who might discover they like it.

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Cara Bristol is the author of the Rod and Cane Society domestic discipline erotic romance series about men who spank and the women who love them. Unexpected Consequences and False Pretenses, the first two novels in the series, have been published by Loose Id. She recently submitted the third to her publisher, but is keeping mum on the title until it’s accepted. Her other spanking stories Intimate Submission and Secret Desires are available individually or in the anthology, Spanked! Her two non-spanking erotic romances are Reckless in Moonlight and A Scent of Longing.

Cara’s blog: http://www.carabristol.com

Cara’s Amazon Author page http://www.amazon.com/Cara-Bristol/e/B004D8KZTQ/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1347039197&sr=1-2-ent

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49 thoughts on “Monday Morning Fika with Cara Bristol: The Catch 22 of domestic discipline fiction…

  1. Sue Lyndon says:

    Great post, Cara. And thanks for using one of my stories as an example. This is the closest I’ll ever get to being cited in a textbook LOL. I agree, coming up with a spanking scenario that doesn’t make the reader dislike one of the main characters can be difficult, especially in a modern setting. It’s definitely easier, for me, to write spanking scenarios in a DD story that’s historical, or sci fi or fantasy where the DD fits right in with the created society. I think writing contemporary DD stories is riskier and harder to pull off….but you do it very well in your Rod and Cane series;)

    Like

  2. Celeste Jones says:

    I went to IHOP this morning, so I have pancakes for everyone since it’s Fika. I’m having the cinna-stax.

    Great post and so accurate. I think about real life situations where I think “that woman needs a spanking” then when I try to think about using it in a story, it becomes tricky because if I thought poorly of the woman’s behavior, how do I make her likeable to my readers—and probably more importantly, to myself. If I don’t like her, how can I expect my readers to like her? (or him).

    Like

      • Ana says:

        Yum, Ihop! Thanks for bringing the treats. I only have some orange juice, but I’ll share.

        I agree that people I see in real-life who need spankings probably aren’t good characters in a story.

        Like

  3. Jade Cary says:

    Well done, m’dear. The reasons are the rub. Very hard to do in a way that pleases everyone. Instead, you make your readers think, maybe talk about your book, maybe see something in TTWD they never thought about before.

    I recently did a Podcast for some folks (a married couple) locally who own an adult ‘shop’. I went on to talk about erotica and of course to plug my books. I got an email from ‘her’ a week later letting me know that this ‘spanking thing’ was something she never thought about, but it is making such a difference in her life right now, etc etc. All I can say is I was thrilled she wasn’t writing to tell me she heaved the book at a wall. (the podcast is googlable if interested)

    What I loved about your books was that you created this ‘society’ that lives the life amid this other life we all live too, and I thought it was and is a very clever concept.

    Hugs,
    J

    Like

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Thank you, Jade. What intrigued me about TTWD was the aspect of living a double life, keeping TTWD secret from vanilla friends & colleagues. Being in the closet. That’s what inspired the Rod and Cane Society series…what if within a context of closed society, people could be open about TTWD?

      I’ll try to track down your Podcast.

      Like

  4. Rollin says:

    This is interesting and even more so since I just posted an article on nearly the same subject on my blog last week. Ostensibly it was an article about “spanking romance” novels, but it dealt with the issues of how to create believable spanking incidents in the context of a romantic novel. It is difficult, as Cara has pointed out. She has given some fine examples too. Jade Carey’s is a wonderful example. Her book works as a stand alone thriller and the spanking scenes meld in logically and seamlessly. I also just read Sue’s book. She created a great female lead character who is neither bratty nor wimpy, but who makes mistakes and is justly dealt with by her adoring husband. I have not read the other book examples given.

    Like

  5. Minelle says:

    I think the difference that occurs when we see a person in real life we imagine deserves to be spanked, vs a character created…. is the privy we have to their thoughts. Therefore allowing us to ‘like’ them in spite of their faults. Not sure if I am clear here, but we can understand some of the motivation regarding the bad behavior.

    Like

    • Ana says:

      That’s a great point. In real life we just see the bad behavior instead of the thought process that went into it. Though I think in some stories that a character can come across as spoiled, self-centered, etc. Just like real life!

      Like

    • Cara Bristol says:

      That is true, Minelle. In fiction we can “see” what a character is thinking and that affects our opinion of him/her. Which is why a character’s motivation is so important to his or her likability.

      Like

  6. tfd says:

    Very interesting. Thank you.

    There are certain basic qualities that make a person likable to me. I’m not that attracted to the idea of spanking rotten people. Spanking is for someone you care about and who will benefit from it. A person I like might have many “flaws” or personal issues they’re dealing with, or goals they’re not achieving, so it’s not hard to find legitimate reasons for a spanking. Spankees likely have both strengths and weaknesses. Vulnerability is attractive, and in the situations I like best to imagine, the one getting punished is always psychologically predisposed to needing this form of discipline. Within that framework, a writer should feel pretty free to explore the discipline dynamic. It’s more difficult in romances (or other genres) where a spanking is clearly non-consensual, so you’re relying on the right audience for it.

    Like

    • Ana says:

      So true. Spanking in this context is a sign of love and caring, so who would waste it on someone you don’t like? In this way of using it for self-improvement (well self-improvement by proxy)…yeah, that is a nice way to put it.

      Haven’t seen you for a while! It is nice to have you back. 🙂

      Like

    • Cara Bristol says:

      tfd…you raised some interesting points by touching on audience perception and predisposition toward spanking. The question is who is the audience? What is considered “spankable,” to a Spanko audience can be very different to a vanilla audience who only wants to read a little kink.An author has a greater burden to prove that the spankee deserves to be punished with a vanilla audience. (I write for both). Secondly, the nature of fiction is that it has to have conflict (opposing goals) for it to be a story. When a spankee consents, there is no conflict. If one is predisposed to wanting to be spanked and gets it, there is no opposition. However, the conflict could be that one wants a spanking, but DOESN’T get it – which is the point of my upcoming free Spank or Treat Halloween story.

      Like

      • tfd says:

        Cara, it’s an interesting topic. I don’t know about writing spankings for a vanilla audience. It’s never been an ambition of mine. I imagine it must be difficult to sell the idea of “healthy” physical punishment to anyone who doesn’t already find the idea appealing. However, spanking stories for and about spanking enthusiasts do utilize conflict. These elements of tension are actually part of the lifestyle for many of us. I don’t know if a vanilla audience could identify with this, or would care to.

        I recognize quite a few subdivisions under the umbrella of all that involves spanking. Stories about males romantically and justifiably spanking women who need to be corrected whether they like it or not are one kind, and perhaps the only kind that might appeal to a wider audience.

        Like

        • Jade Cary says:

          @TFD, I think that about the ONLY thing a vanilla reader would put up with regarding TTWD is a threat, or maybe a one-swatter. It’s titillating, and depending on how the character on the receiving end deals with it in the story is where you might have (one) conflict. I’ve done it. I’m not sure how you would write a spanking romance for the vanilla reader.

          Like

          • tfd says:

            Jade, you may be right. I’m not well tuned-in to what the general public accepts. If we’re talking about a mainstream audience, then I remember as a child seeing dramatic portrayals of males spanking females as part of the sexual politics, and it was enjoyed by many. It was sex, but couched in a way that a puritan audience didn’t have to feel guilty about their pleasure. I think that appeal is still alive but, to use a cliched term, politically incorrect.

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          • Cara Bristol says:

            I think it depends on a how you define vanilla. There are plenty of readers who read BDSM but don’t practice it and don’t want to. It falls in the realm of fantasy. And the same is true of spanking. But they still find something titillating about reading it. So are they vanilla or not? If fantasizing makes one not vanilla, then very very few people would be classified as such. Where does M/M romance fit in? Heterosexual females are writing M/M for a heterosexual female audience. Are those readers vanilla?

            Like

            • Ana says:

              *waves my F/F flag* Hey, please don’t forget F/F! 😀 Gosh, this whole “what is vanilla” should be a topic for a later FIka. There is a lot to discuss. I know some BDSM folk who consider DD or spanking-only to be vanilla.

              Like

            • Jade Cary says:

              Yes I see your point, Cara, so I;’m asking myself: what do I think ‘vanilla’ is?

              I read on a blog once from a couple who practices DD seriously, and SHE described them as ‘vanilla’. I thought that was so odd, because if their blog is to be believed, it didn’t look that way to me, but I can see your point very clearly that it’s what your POV is. Maybe describing an audience that might not appreciate a spanking scene as mainstream wouldfit better.

              Like

                  • tfd says:

                    There’s no official definition for this relatively new use of the word vanilla, so why imagine there is one? The meaning is through context. In the context here, I think we’re trying to differentiate between an audience that is expected to enjoy a serious spanking scene, and one that might not. If I’m writing for a particular imagined audience, what matters is what they like to read. Their fantasy life is probably more relevant than their real one. People who only fantasize about something are good bets to be an appreciative audience.

                    Like

                  • Ana says:

                    I was wondering something similar, actually. If I fantasize about something but don’t get a chance to practice it, I’m not sure that I still am “vanilla”. You’re right that we don’t have to have a strict definition of vanilla, but I still think there is value in attempting to define it. Look at all the discussion here, for example. I’m not sure if I would count someone who read and enjoyed a kinky novel to be, strictly, vanilla. Or as you say, maybe it’s that they are receptive.

                    Like

        • Ana says:

          It’s hard for me to imagine a context for a modern-day story for a vanilla audience that would accept a spanking. I think maybe a little playful sexy swatting might be accepted (notice I don’t say acceptable), but would an actual full spanking be accepted? My instinct is to say “no,” but who knows? Maybe 50 Shades is starting to change what it considered acceptable in a vanilla context. I’m sure many of us remember stories from childhood in which spankings occurred of children, and that is pretty much a no-go no matter what the context now. I think it’s possible that standards for spankings in vanilla stories may change, especially if the characters were given a good narrative reason to be into it. For that matter, (slightly off-topic), I’ve actually come across academic research into BDSM as stress relief. No kidding.

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          • tfd says:

            Ana, again, I feel I should say I’m not very knowledgeable regarding sociology, but what the 50 Shades thing shows is that, apparently, fewer people are vanilla than we might have thought. If, as a writer, we’re trying to appeal to a truly vanilla audience then, by definition of vanilla, an actual full spanking can only be an assault. And that’s true regarding children, as well. Fiction must still follow certain societal conventions, and those conventions are always evolving.

            That’s probably why I feel no urge to write spankings for a mainstream audience. I want the freedom to please myself without regard for those who don’t understand. I make the conventions, possibly without intending a moral, and with the knowledge that there are some number of readers who share my feelings.

            Like

            • Ana says:

              That’s a great point about vanilla being a flexible definition. I think of “vanilla” as someone who doesn’t openly state wanting to be in a spanking relationship. Others can have different definitions, of course.

              Jade, I haven’t heard of that show but will have to look it up. She goes home to admire the damage? LOL! That I *do* have to see. It reminds me of Raising Hope last spring when (don’t know the character’s names) baby Hope’s dad gets a good whack from his own dad for acting spoiled. Then *Hope*, seeing it, obeys. After that, they playact the spanking in order to make her behave. It’s all very fun and lighthearted, but it’s still far more than I would have expected to see in a vanilla show.

              I love a story where spanking is not Kink with a capital K but instead just a normal part of life (not in an assaulting way).

              Like

              • Jade Cary says:

                What I loved about the scene in Weeds was that he didn’t pause to admire her bottom, or raise his hand high and then tap her. It was a good scene and after it was over, they both had satisfied looks on their faces (well, Nancy’s was shocked at first). If you can’t find the scene (I couldn’t find a quality one on You Tube) I’ll recap. 🙂

                Like

          • Jade Cary says:

            Did you all see the episode of Weeds on HBO (season 4) when Nancy, the lead character, gets spanked? It was set up an episode or two prior, and still I was stunned when it happened, because it never does. It wasn’t sexual in that there was no romance and no sex between the two, and he was merely following up on this threat, which he probably would have followed through on the previous episode, but he got interrupted. Many felt that, or saw it as kinky, yet to me it wasn’t it was what you’d see on a TV show in the olden days. It was a great scene. If you didn’t catch it, go on YouTube and search Weeds Nancy Spank. Now, to be fair, in the next scene, Nancy goes home and admires his handywork. I love when TV surprises me like that

            Like

              • Jade Cary says:

                I live to recap:

                Weeds is a show on HBO about a woman who is widowed with two children, and she turns to selling pot to make ends meet. Through season 3 we see Nancy Botwin and her two kids, plus her BIL Andy and a few other cronies, get into all kinds of binds related to the drug trade. In season 4, we find the clan has moved to a beach town close to the border of CA and Mexico. Nancy has burned down her old town to hide evidence of some kind (don’t remember). Nancy gets involved with folks across the border (a cartel), and they set her up in a maternity shop at the border where she helps them get drugs across to the US via an underground tunnel that comes up into the stock room of the shop. Nancy decides one day to go down into the tunnel and she comes up the other side, into Mexico, and locks eyes with a very handsome and distinguished Latin man inside a club or something. She is immediately ushered out. The next day she is grabbed and brought to said handsome distinguished Latin man.

                He reads her her entire life (name, education, children, etc), and then chastises her for coming into the tunnel. He tells her she needs to be punished. ‘A spanking…a good, long, hard spanking’ which it appears he plans on following through with until he is interrupted. He lets Nancy go with a warning.

                She cannot let it go, and she discovers that this man, Esteban Reyes, is the ‘mayor’ of this border town. He is also head of the cartel. She goes to a rally where the ‘mayor’ is giving blood. She gives blood too, then ends up in the back of his limo. She tells him that she can push his weed for him if her gives her enough shipment. He tells her that there is a chain of command and that she needs to go through Hector, the guy she’s been working with. She complains that Hector is not giving her enough, and that he is punishing her for coming to him (Esteban). Esteban says, ‘You don’t think you need to be punished?’ She said, ‘no, not by him, not for this.” Esteban says, ‘How about from me?’ She says, ‘Yes, from you. Give me the weed shipment.’ With that he drags her over his knee, lifts her dress and spanks her over skimpy panties. He peels off two dozen good whacks before he sets her back on her ass and bangs on the limo window. Someone opens the door and drags her out, and before the door is closed, she leans in and laughingly says, ‘Thanks, Mr. Mayor’. He adjusts his cuffs and smiles, too. She goes home and admires her red sit spot in the mirror. She appears in a daze as she rubs her hand over the area.

                The next day huge duffle bags of weed are delivered to her to push, and her contact Hector is now pissssed.

                Nancy and Esteban go on to have a relationship that gets very stupid in season 5, but there is a very sweet scene between them in season 4 toward the end of the season, I think the epi is called ‘little sailboats’ or something.

                I thought it was a very good scene because it happened very quickly so, as the audience you had no time to take in what was happening before it was over. I also loved that he didn’t pause to admire her ass, or in any way let on to the audience that he was anything other than serious about getting his point across to this broad. Then he gives her her way in the end. Very good.

                There is another spanking scene in I think season 5 in a bar with John Paul Gautier.

                You may be able to find both epis in full on the HBO/Weeds web site. The one with Esteban in season 4 is titled Yes I Can.

                Anyway…Weeds.

                Like

                • tfd says:

                  I saw the clip for this awhile back, but I had no idea who the characters were or why it was happening. Thanks for the rundown. It sounds like the characters and situations involved in this show would allow the writers to take it in more bizarre directions than normal. I’m not even sure how odd a spanking scene is to a mainstream audience. I think everyone knows that spanking is sexy for a lot of people. One doesn’t have to understand the appeal of spanking to accept that it’s a fact of life.

                  Like

                • Ana says:

                  Wow!!! Well, then again, HBO is different than regular programming and a story about marijuana dealing does push the envelope in a lot of ways already. Does she meet him again?

                  Like

                  • Jade Cary says:

                    Yay! More recap:

                    So, the next day or next week he summons her to Mexico to lunch with him. He takes her to this dive. There’s only a few people in the place. He orders food and she excuses herself to the potty. While in the potty someone tries to blow up the place or shoot him or whatever. His boys are on it, the waiter gets killed and Nancy is in the bathroom while all this commotion is going on. She comes out, Esteban tells his boys to clean up, the cops come, and he orders Nancy to sit down and eat.

                    Next scene, he takes her home to his place. He has a pet lion he keeps in a cage. Someone feeds it a goat and the animalistic way the lion goes after this animal turns them both on and they end up in this very hot sex scene, with his nails going down her back, etc. When it’s over, he turns to her and says, “Buenos Noches, Nancy’, and turns his back on her pretending to go to sleep. She fumes for a minute then slaps him on the back. He turns over and quickly takes her in his arms, very sweet, laughing…cute scene.

                    Meanwhile, Nancy is secretly talking to the DEA because not only are they bringing drugs into the US through the tunnel but also young girls, and there is where Nancy draws the line. She starts giving names. Esteban grouses to her that the feds are moving in and that he’s got a mole in his organization, never dreaming it’s her. Meanwhile you can see they’re falling in love. MANY cute scenes between them, great chemistry, etc. Then Esteban finds out Nancy has been talking to the feds. He summons her to Mexico, and the scene of her going down the highway as the border looms ever closer is brilliant. She gets there and he questions her (his boys tortured a DEA agent until he said who he was talking to, then they killed him.) She feels like she can’t get out of it so she shows him the ultrasound of the baby she’s carrying. Her lasts words are, ‘It feels like a boy’ (he has two daughters). From there, sadly, it gets stupid. But Demian Bashir is brilliant and he lights up the screen whenever he is on. She has the kid, it’s his, blah blah…then he’s killed in prison or something. A lot happens in between, but to me season 4 was the best. It’s over now. This year was the last season. To me it’s worth seeing it from the beginning. The characters are great, most notably the woman who plays Celia, Elizabeth Perkins. Brilliant.

                    Like

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